Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Friday, May 05, 2006

Revisiting Bp. Daily's 2002 mobster funeral decision

In 2002, Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Daily refused to allow a funeral Mass for John "the Dapper Don" Gotti. At the time I thought, "That makes sense; it sounds like a pretty straight-forward Canon 1184 matter." and went on to other things.

Just last year, though, a civil lawyer published what purported to be an extensive canonical and theological criticism of Bp. Daily's decision: Patrick Gordon, "Gotti, Mob Funerals, and the Catholic Church", Journal of Catholic Legal Studies 44 (2005) 253-276. (Abstract here) When I saw the article, I turned to it with interest because I assumed it would deal competently with a legally and socially important topic. To my surprise and disappointment, however, the article was very poor. Gordon, using demonstrably shabby canonical analysis, visited severe criticism on a bishop who was acting squarely within the scope his authority. I decided a reply was in order.

My defense of Bp. Daily's funeral decision, "Lest amateurs argue canon law: a reply to Patrick Gordon's brief against Bp. Thomas Daily", has just been published by the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome), in its review Angelicum 86 (2006) 121-142. The article is now available on my website.